When I was younger I used to hear it on classic rock stations and it was a pretty good song. Then, at some point between 5th and 6th grade, I started going to events with DJs, or at least a playlist and speakers, and those DJs would invariably play it. When the first few piano notes rung out, people would lose their shit. I mean, the thousands of girls who screamed upon seeing the Beatles could have took a lesson from the people in the room when “Don’t Stop Believing” came on over the speakers. I have seen people injure themselves trying to get to the dance floor when this song comes on.
And I’m always like “why?!” The melody is simple, and constructed to sound like an epic but relatable ballad that comments on the human condition, but if you look at the lyrics they make no fucking sense. Seemingly, almost no two uses of a pronoun refer to the same person. It’s built to sound like a ballad, but there is no story. You never find out what happens to the “small-town girl” and the “city boy” referred to in the opening lines. Every verse introduces a new set of characters as if it’s the beginning of a story but you never hear the end of those stories.
The fact is, it’s not a good song. It’s not a terrible song, it’s just mediocre. It’s an okay song that would be okay to hear on the radio once in a while. I hate it because people go crazy over it as if JESUS THE CHRIST was singing a duet with THE GODDAMN BATMAN while JAMES BOND 007 played guitar. I hate it because when I say I don’t like that song, I suddenly get attacked as if I just casually mentioned that there is no better fourth of July snack than barbecued puppy face.
That’s why it drives me crazy that people use that Family Guy episode where they sing it as an example of how awesome the song is. That scene was putting into animation exactly what I’m saying in this post. People come into the bar off the streets just because they hear amateurs singing the song. A funeral group drops their father’s casket down a fight of stone stairs because the song is so “Kick-ass,” and the only person left to mourn him is his wife, who, when she stops crying long enough to hear the song, she completely forgets her husband’s recently desecrated corpse and joins everyone in listening. People are so obsessed with the song that it seems to supersede their personal relationships, and, in fact, their love of the song seems to supersede their very personality itself. Saying you don’t like a relatively mediocre song should not be fighting words.
So next time someone gets mad at me for hating that song, I’ll reply with a simple question: “What’s the song about?” If they can provide me with a satisfactory answer, then I will concede the argument and listen to the rest of the song without complaint. However, I will not accept answers that prove my point, and these include generic imagery and cliches.